Merlin the Amazing

Submitted by Larry on 15 November 2006 - 4:12am

I make no secret about the fact that I am a fan of Free and Open Source software. There are many reasons. The quality of the code tends to be better. I like to tinker with it and see how it works. It's usually gratis as well as [Free|Open]. But what really makes Open Source so attractive as both a user and a developer is talking to merlinofchaos.

I've been working on a Drupal site for a client recently that involves some rather screwy displays. Now, not being a complete novice I had a pretty good idea of how to put most of them together. A few, however, really had me stumped, particularly a completely bizarre calendar display that doesn't fit any of the standard Drupal calendar displays. Of course, it's a list of events (with extras), so the natural way to build it in Drupal is to use the Views module. Views is quite the complex (but powerful) beast, however, and some things I'm just not sure how to build. So as is a not uncommon I hopped into IRC to get a second opinion.

Earl "merlinofchaos" Miles is the author of the Views module (as well as a variety of other things) as well as an archetype of what is right with open source. Although he's also a Drupal consultant, which means he's technically my competition (albeit very very indirectly), he happily spent several hours with me the past two days walking me through some of Views' less obvious features.

Today, we were talking about how to build a weird series of event listing pages. I unfortunately had to leave early, but he had several suggestions for things to try. Barely a few hours later, however, I get home and check the Planet Drupal RSS feed and find his latest blog post, which is almost exactly what we were talking about building. (How can you top "Did I put that on my web site? Why didn't I put that on my site?") The next entry, of course, was talking about a brand new contrib module that builds the last part of what I was looking for.

Of course, I suspect I'm not the only one who keeps bugging merlin about Views. It's a very powerful module, but to really stretch it to its limit takes a lot of knowledge. So I can't take full credit for Merlin also opening a thread on at the same time about a Views FAQ.

And all of this is volunteer time.

When I first was looking around at application frameworks, one of the key reasons I settled on Drupal was because of its community. This is why. There is no better application support than a friendly and helpful developer. That, more than any licensing question, is what makes open source work.

Earl, you can expect my help with the FAQ. Hopefully I'll even do more than just add the Q's. :-)

Anonymous (not verified)

16 December 2006 - 12:22am

It is all true, I would be delighted to have Merlin's children were I not happily married, in spite of the fact that I am old enough to be his mama.

He is one rightous dude.